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Hunts for dinner

Ever since his fourteenth, Eduard van Adrichem hunts, gathers, and fishes daily. He earns a living by hunting on pests and nuisance causing animals for the agricultural sector and Schiphol, the biggest airport in the Netherlands. On a daily basis he shoots hares, muskrats, geese and other bird species like wigeons and crows. Therefore, Eduard is for the most part self-sufficient in his food. Whenever he’s walking with his four-legged friend and his shotgun, he makes sure that everything he encounters ends up on his plate. In the evenings, he enjoys dinner with his wife next to the wood stove as they eat roadkill dishes, nettle soup, and authentic flame grilled goose breast. What is it, that drives Eduard to collect his own daily meal around the outskirts of Amsterdam?

Before the game is up, I sit and wait for my victim in one of my hunting shelters, which I installed in different spots around my hunting fields. After I shoot my target, which I never miss, my blind and deaf dog Joepie bravely fetches the catch.

It is quiet in the meadow, where hunter Eduard van Adrichem is hiding in one of his makeshift huts built of reeds and old pallets. Among the upcoming winter sun, there are still floating thick fog banks and besides the sound of filling a mug with coffee, the past ten minutes nothing could be heard. In the distance looms up Amsterdam ArenA, the big stadium belonging to the internationally renowned soccer team of Ajax. As is normal during weekdays, the  early morning traffic jam slowly moves by the stadium. “Don’t be fooled, the peace and quietness can change very quickly here, ” says Van Adrichem, with his hat pulled over his ears. He isn’t even finished talking or the honking of a large group of geese comes closer. Even before they fly low , a loud bang fills the space of the rural fields. With a following dull thud, one of the birds falls in a ditch. The blind and deaf dog Joepie chases his only left sense and jumps into the water to get the catch of today.

“Food isn’t getting more organic”, says the hunter proudly as he shows the white-fronted goose he just shot. “For the farmer there is less nuisance (geese eat a lot of grass and make the land less fertile with their faeces) and my bonus is that I decided what’s on my menu tonight.” But it hasn’t always been easy to be a hunter and gatherer in these modern times. As a hunter, Eduard only has one real enemy; people who are against hunting. “But I have to admit, my opponents are at the same time my masters and they teach me that there are people out there who forget the laws of nature. These natural rules say that mankind only has three real enemies. These are the cunt, the church, and the capital. If you manage to overpower these three devils you are as rich as a king. Do you own them or they own you? That is what life is all about”, says Eduard while he is reloading his gun with two cartridges.

By nature, everybody is a hunter, even the modern man who‘s got his ass stuck in the office all day. When one has suffered from real hunger, he or she will confirm this. That’s because once you know the delicious taste of fresh goose meat, you will accept it as real food the next time you see one flying by. In a situation with hunger, you will eventually learn to appreciate it’s appearance and respect it as your next potential prey.

There’s been a lot of criticism on the role of hunting in the Netherlands, which has around 100 full-time professional hunters. Arguments from opponents include that hunting is a cruel and ineffective way of wildlife management. Eduard, therefore, calls for natural relativisation. Pathetic he thinks, is a relative word. “There is no difference in eating muesli or a piece of freshly shot meat. A grain of wheat had the potential to grow into a flower which would stand in the sun for the rest of its beautiful life. But long before he could reach that point, it got crushed by a machine. Isn’t that pathetic?  When you eat, you always have to stop the potential of another living creature, how miserably this might sound.” It is useless to argue about the effectiveness of hunting, he says. “Just ask my farmers about the effects of hunting, there’s a reason why they still hire me.”

However, the hunter notices that recently there has been a change in the critics and hunting scene itself. “Nowadays there are a lot more colleagues who hunt out of moral considerations and take every kill home instead of selling or disposing it. With this, the number of young hunters and gatherers appears to be growing by the day. More and more people abandon manufactured meat and vegetables. We become more aware of our carbon footprints and show this in our eating habits. Recently, the Dutch people are slowly stepping away from food out of a plastic box and are demanding for organic and fair trade local products. Self-sufficiency through hunting and wild harvesting are associated with this trend.” Eduard thinks this a good progression. “As long as we wisely handle picking and hunting, we will balance our natural surroundings, “says Van Adrichem.

The human being is just a part of mother earth in which it is by rule the survival of the fittest to stay alive. So when hunting, it’s still all about eat or be eaten, but also about changes of survival. I think that this is more fair compared to the bio-industry in wich the potential meal has no option to survive. Most pigs or cows are already dead the day they are born.

Moles

The main objective of Eduard ’s work is to protect the territory of the farmers he cooperates with. Especially dairy farmers are suffering from degraded landscapes and that’s why grass-eating birds and pests such as moles have to be caught. Eduard is hired every spring to catch moles. It used to be a golden age for mole catchers when the hides were being used for fur coats and its lining. “From the money I earned by catching moles, I have built my house and raised my children”, says Eduard as he digs in another trap. A mole can dig 10 to 15 meters an hour. The small animals plow big parts of the land and multiply rapidly. Farmer Jan Geijsel is one of Eduard’s regular customers. “If I let nature run free I can close down my company, which produces milk and cheese for many European citizens. As a farmer I always have to choose between living with, and the containing of the surounding nature”, he says.

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